Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/25/2007
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
Citation: Derner, J.D., Lauenroth, W.K., Stapp, P., Augustine, D.J. 2008. Building bridges using livestock as ecosystem engineers in semi-arid rangelands: Addressing conservation and livestock production goals. In: American Forage and Grassland Council and Society for Range Management annual mtngs "Building bridges: Grasslands to rangelands. Louisville, KY, January, 2008. CDROM, Abstract #1725. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Domestic livestock have the potential to function as ecosystem engineers in semi-arid rangelands, but their utility has been compromised by management practices that emphasize livestock production, homogeneous use of vegetation and removal/control of interacting disturbances of fire and prairie dogs. As a result, appropriate spatial and temporal heterogeneity of vegetation is problematic at multiple (patch and pasture) scales to address contemporary production and conservation issues. Here we focus on 1) the potential benefits and consequences associated with extending heterogeneity-based management practices currently employed in mesic to semi-arid rangelands, 2) associated effects on habitat requirements of grassland bird species native to western portion of the North American Great Plains, and 3) risks and logistical constraints of implementing patch and pasture scale heterogeneity-based management practices with livestock grazing alone or in combination with other natural disturbances (fire, prairie dogs) to alter spatial and temporal heterogeneity of vegetation. These approaches are feasible in terms of application by land managers within the context of current livestock operations, and provide important tools to achieve desired contemporary objectives and outcomes in semi-arid rangelands.